Statement delivered by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, to the UN Human Rights Council in its debate under Agenda Item 4, “Human Rights Situations That Require the Council’s Attention,” 16 June 2011.
If human rights standards are applied selectively, in what sense can they be considered standards? The credibility of the United Nations turns on this question.
Let us consider and compare two events.
One year ago, this council was holding a three-week session, just like this one. Suddenly, the Arab and Islamic states demanded an interruption, to debate the deaths of nine members of a so-called humanitarian flotilla. As it happens, many of the passengers had been recruited by the Jihadi IHH organization, and had boasted of their seeking to die as martyrs.
No procedure existed for interrupting a session. So something new was created, called the “Urgent Debate.”
Israel was immediately condemned as guilty. Yet many justified the exercise, promising it would be a precedent for the Council to respond swiftly to serious incidents in the future.
Fast forward one year later. The world’s diplomats have been assembled here for three weeks, conducting debates on human rights, and panels on tolerance. Meanwhile, during this time, as we heard from the report yesterday, the Syrian government has been massacring hundreds of its citizens in cold blood, gunning down men, women and children. The death toll is now at least 1,300, and escalating daily.
And so we ask: Where is the Urgent Debate?
Why is there no resolution?
What happened to the promised precedent?
By what moral logic were nine flotilla deaths considered “urgent,” while today’s murder of 1300 peaceful citizens—many slaughtered in their own homes—goes entirely ignored?
Madam President, the hypocrisy is even worse. Because this session is actually planning yet another resolution, the fourth of its kind, to denounce Israel for last year’s flotilla.
That’s right: Syrian children are being killed today, and desperately need protection, yet the council wants to keep talking about an event from last year.
And who are the sponsors of this text condemning Israel for violating human rights? They include Syria, Iran, Yemen and Bahrain—the very countries now firing on their own citizens.
Madam President, so long as double standards and hypocrisy are allowed to suffocate human rights, those who truly need the world’s attention will continue to suffer.
Thank you, Madam President.